It was the dead of night in the worst maritime storm the country of Bantia had seen all year. Pitch black waves swelled to over fifteen feet high before breaking and crashing down again, only to be replaced by another only just a moment. Rain swirled in every direction, and it had been for hours that day. Lightning streaked across the sky, providing the only illumination for miles. That is, save for a single vessel whose crew was either brave of stupid enough to brave the storm.
The bow crashed through another twelve foot wave, riding down the other side as lightning lit up the sky once more. Aboard the deck, the ship’s crew was scrambling to keep their vestal going, sliding across the rain covered boards with each role of the waves.
As the ship violently rocked back-and-forth, Marlynx lost his footing, but since he was only a two-foot high exceed, he was able to get up rather easily. He looked at his crew: each member frightened and struggling to maintain his/her grip on the deck while looking at Marlynx as if they were waiting for a directive. Looking up at Noreen D'agostino who had been frantically spinning the helm in an attempt to keep the ship stabilized, Marlynx began to glow as his two-foot tall exceed form grew in size, taking on the shape of his six-foot tall battle form. Now standing four inches over Noreen, he put his hand on the helm that was spinning and stopped it. Noreen looked at Marlynx with a puzzled look written all over her face. "What are you doing, Captain?" She yelled in an attempt to compete with the sound of the heavy rainfall.
Marlynx stepped to ward where Noreen was standing as if to signal for her to get out of his way. Putting his second hand on the helm, he said, almost yelling, "Oi, Let me take care of the helm. I need you to activate your telepathy and broadcast my voice to everyone on this ship. I need it done, chop-chop!" His voice was loud enough to cut through the sound of the heavy rainfall and thunder. Releasing her grip from the helm, she took two steps tot he side and lifted her right hand up, putting two fingers on the side of her head. She emanated a faint glow from her body, signaling that her magic had started to activate. It took a few seconds for Noreen's Telepathy to activate before she started talking. Finally activate, Noreen said ,"Okay, Captain, everyone can hear you." with her voice now being heard in Marlynx's head. Marlynx lowered his eyebrows, giving a stoic countenance as he began to speak.
"There is no time for panicking." He said with his voice being heard in the heads of every crew member aboard. "Batten down the hatches and get into your positions. Those on the spar-deck, lower the sails and brace yourselves for any impact. Those in the engine room, I need you to activate the steam motors. Don't you dare keep me waiting, unless you enjoy riding on capsized boats."
The crew members on the upper deck were filled with a sudden burst of reassurance. Given a new direction, their paralyzing fear now gave way to an ever-encouraging sense of purpose as they began to run toward the sail pole to lower the single set of sails. As they lowered the sails, the confused and frightened crew members in the engine room below enjoyed the same sense of reassurance as did the members on the spar-deck. One crew member in particular, Shogo Mayagüero, gave a slick smirk, exuding a "let's do this" attitude. "Alright Boys! Your heard the Captain! Let's fire up those engines, pronto!" He declared with vigor and excitement, as if he was oblivious to the seriousness of his crew's current situation. Shogo and other assorted crew members gathered around the main steam-engine and activated it by pressing a complex combination of assorted colorful buttons. After doing so, they stepped back as the steam engine sprung to life with a loud revving reminiscent of a lawn-mower.
Up on the Spar-deck, the crew members had gained their footing, knowing that their job was done. Marlynx, who was still turning the helm wildly, felt the rotation of the helm become stifled as the helm itself vibrated violently. Marlynx cracked a wide smile as he knew that the steam engines had activated, giving him better control over the handling of the ship. As Marlynx turned the helm in his desired direction, he could feel the helm give resistance as it rotated. Pushing harder, Marlynx could feel the ship turning to where he wanted it to be: facing in the direction where the winds were violently blowing. Looking over at Noreen, he shouted, "Alright! Map us out of this mess!" At that very instant, she nodded. Noreen held out her hands, summoning thin plates of light that had assorted characters and symbols on them. Fiddling with the plates of light, she said "My archive magic is going to take a few minutes ot orient us, Captain. Please bear with me." SHe shouted, again to compete with the sound of the rainfall. Marlynx, hearing this, began to look as if he was getting impatient. "Get that damn map working right now!!!!" He shouted with annoyance. Noreen was attempting to concentrate on activating the map with her Archive Magic while heavy rain was falling on ehr and while Marlynx was basically yelling at her. She raised her voice once again, but this time, getting defensive and annoyed at Marlynx. "I told you to bear with me! be patient!" SHe shouted.
The second the sails got the slightest amount of wind in them, the ship lurched violently forwards and sent most, if not all of the crew to their knees. The sudden burst of speed spun the ship directly into another wave, which crashed over the bow and washed anything not held down across the deck. One of the crewmembers crawled up on a nearby railing, looking up at Marlynx and Noreen next to the wheel. “What’re we doing out here cap’n?!” He yelled over a crash of thunder. “We’re not going to find a damn thing like this!”
Hearing the question his crew mate asked him, Marlynx knew the exact reason why his ship was out in the middle of a storm: Marlynx had chosen to come to this area to hunt down the very elusive Royal Lamiatona . However, Noreen picked up a forecast of a very heavy storm coming from the northwest upon that specific area. Marlynx decided to take the chance of encountering and trying to kill the monster before the storm arrived. However, the storm arrived much sooner than anticipated. Realizing this, Marlynx got defensive. "Well of course not, unless you would like to take a skiff and hunt that thing on your won in this weather." He said with brutal sarcasm. Just as he said that, another wave crashed on the side of the Valles Marineris, causing it to rock to the side and shakign the crew with it. Most of the crew brought their heads low and clung onto the nearest object that was around them, regardless of whether or not it was a crew member's body part. Marlynx did the same, and onc ethe ship stabilized, he raised his head up, still clinging onto the helm with intense force. "damn it..." He thought to himself.
Marlynx was focused on steering the ship at this point; something he is very good at doing. Not even looking at noreen, he shouted "Noreen, I need you to broadcast my voice to the crew members again!" Noreen, hearing this command while still trying to get a working map up on her Archive, responded firmly, "Captain, I can't do two things at once. It's either the map or the broadcast, sir." She continued to configure her magic to get a working map up-and-running. The atmospheric disturbance was causing the map to have trouble loading as well as being configured to display the crew's current area and position. As Noreen continued to fiddle with her Archive magic while trying to retain her balance, Marlynx got impatient as he called over the smae crew mate from before. "Hey, Get over here! I need you to do me a favour!" He shouted. THe crew member quickly responded and came over with the rocking of the ship causing him to stumble and make false stems. After a few seconds of stumbling, He finally make it close to Marlynx as he grabbed the area behind the helm for support. "WHat is it, Cap'n." He asked loudly, clinging to the back of the helm.
"I need you to command the members on-deck to brace themselves when a wave is coming, understand?" Marlynx shouted. Marlynx was met with an immediate "Yes, Sir!" as the crew member made a b-line to the middle and lower part of the upper-deck. He scrambled as he shouted at the top of his lungs his own version of "duck down when i say 'Brace!'" Of course, given that the crew-member was at the lower part of the deck, Marlynx coudln't hear a word of it, though he had faith that his crew member would execute his command. Continuing to steer the ship, Marlynx shouted to Noreen, "Forget what i said! Just focus on getting the map to work!"
His order came just a second to late, for a rogue wave slammed the side of the Valles Marineris but a moment later. The ship lurched sideways, tipping one side dangerously close to the sea. A sudden gust of wind pulled the ship forward and upright, but a sudden moan throughout the ship caught everyone’s attention. A crack shot up the main mast just as the ship crested another wave, and every rope attaching it to the deck up went tight in an instant.
The sound distracted Noreen from her task as her archive magic began to disspate. Turning her head bck to her archive magic after looking behind her at the mast, she became flustered, trying to keep her magic from disappearing. After stabilising her archive magic, the map began began to show a singular image. the image was static-ridden, but as a few seconds passed, the image cleared up until it took on the form of a rotating compass, with the letters "NW" wobbling at the top. At this moment, Noreen became filled with a little bit of hope as she finally knew at least what direction the ship was going. However, after the compass loaded, another rogue wave struck the side of the boat, knocking Noreen off-balance and neutralising her Archive magic in the process.
The mast creaked again with another gust of wind, sanding the crew into a frenzy to avoid it coming down on them. It took but a moment for them to stow the sails in a attempt to minimise the damage from the gusting wind, but the rain was already beginning to die down by then. Waves still pummelled the sides of the ship, violently rocking it back and forth, but it looked like they had made it through the worst of it for the moment on the power of the steam engines. "Cap'n, something approaching on the starboard side." One of the crewmembers shouted, pointing to a slight glow shining through the rain.
Marlynx looked over to his left at the faint light through the now diminishing rain and was filled with hope. "Noreen, do you see that?" Marlynx asked rather cheerfully. Noreen looked over across the starboard side, seeing the faint light as well. "Yeah, I do." She said, staring at the light. As she stared at the light thinking about it, Marlynx wasted no time in steerign the ship in the direction of that light. As the ship steered, a thought crossed Noreen's mind: "What if that light is actually the Royal Lamiatona? They are knwon to have really bright lights on their bodies."
Noreen looked over at Marlynx and said, "Hey Captain, I may be wrong, but i have a feeling that those lights could be the monster we are after!" Marlynx looked straight at the glow, intently inspecting it for a few seconds. "Maybe Noreen is right." He thought to himself. The glowing light seemed convincing enough to be a sign of the mosnter they were after. Convinced, Marlynx called over Noreen. "I need oyu to broadcast my voice tot he crew." he said with a look on his face that made him look as if he was preparing for a large battle. Noreen began to activate her Telepathy as the voices of every crew member talking on board filled Marlynx's head, signaling it was activated. "Boys!" he said with authority. "I know that the storm was rough on all of us, but it seems that now, our treacherous ordeal was worth it! It seems that we have the Royal Lamiatona within our reach, so without further delay... everyone, battle stations!"
In his head, he could hear every crew member shout "Yes Sir!" as every crew member, above and below deck, scrambled to load the cannons, mortars, and harpoons. Marlynx let go of the helm at this point. "Noreen, you take the helm again." He said. Noreen deactivated her Telepathy magic as she walked over to the helm and took control of it. Malynx walked down the deck, supervising every crew member to ensure that the mortars, cannons and harpoons were loaded properly. The rain and wind seemed to die down tot he poitn where Marlynx could be heard when shouting. When the crew members finished loading the mortars, Marlynx shouted "Alright boys. Mortars, take aim at the lights, and fire on my mark!" The crew members operating the mortars began to look at the lights and adjust the angle of the mortars carefully. Once they stopped fiddling with the mortars, they stood up and shouted "Sir, we are locked on!"
Marlynx gave a slick smirk. Turning to face directly at the lights, he said. "Ready, boys?" The tension could be felt in the air as each crew member operating the mortars was anxious to get the hunt started. Noreen, while steering the ship in the direction of the lights, observed something strange. There was a strange shape above the mysterious lights. She got a little closer until she realized that those lights were not that of a monster; they were that of another ship. "Oh-no!" She thought.This sent a rush of adrenaline thoughout Noreen's body as she immediately rushed over to Marlynx, afraid that he might unknowingly fire on the ship. "Captain! That isn't a monster! Don't-" Noreen was interrupted by a still-determined marlynx who shouted the word. "Fire!" The mortars let out a loud concussive blasting sound as they fired explosive ammo into the air with a course set for the lights, leaving Noreen with a horrified look on her face.
The shells arced through the air, before raining down around the other vessel. Many veered off course in the fierce blowing wind, but one of the lasts shots appeared to be directly on the mark however. Just as the hunters took a collective gasp, a purple line of light shot from the opposite boat’s deck, forming a circle in the air that repelled the shot.
The shell tumbled through the air and landed in the sea, sending a cascade of water over twenty feet into the air upon detonation. A woman came down to land on the figurehead of the other ship, a trail of small purple runes trailing off the tip of the sword in her hand. She flicked her long black hair out of her face, and glared back at the Valles Marineris with a pair of deep red eyes. “Attention vessel, I am Hanna Andrews of the Magic Council! Prepare to be boarded!" The instant she spoke, another pair of lights appeared behind the ship, followed by another directly ahead. The two new vessels began circling Marlynx and his crew, while the ship they had fired upon drew in closer.
When Marlynx heard the words "Magic Council", a rush what felt like heat surged through Marlynx's body. His face was frozen as he knew that he had landed into deep trouble, but was so paralyzed by fear that he had not the strength to do anything but glare at Noreen silently. Noreen put both her hans over her mouth with her face still being frozen with her petrified look. "Oh my God..." She muttered audibly that Marlynx could hear her. "I am so sorry..."
Marlynx looked back at the now approaching fleet of ships. Closing his eyes, clenching his fists, and having an expression that screamed "I am going to blow my top off any second", Marlynx said to Noreen with seething anger. "I do not want to hear a single word from you. Transmit my voice to the crew at once." Noreen slowly put two fingers on the side of her forehead. Once she did, Marlynx said, "Alright. Everyone, prepare to have this ship boarded by the Magic Council. Whatever you do, do NOT resist under ANY circumstances."
The main of the three ships drew alongside them, and the woman named Hanna hopped up on the rail. She surveyed her surroundings, taking note of anyone present, before stepping down onto the deck with a handful of other councilmen. “Secure weapons.” Hanna ordered, using her sword to point at the array of mortar cannons along the side of the ship. “Who is the captain of this vessel?”
Marlynx's battle form had begun to wear off at this point, transforming him back into a two-foot tall exceed. Looking right up at Hanna, Marlynx replied. "I am." With a dry, coarse tone of voice.
Hanna was surprised to see such a small creature acting as captain, but she’d seen weirded in her career so she decided to go along with it. “We are here on report of potential poachers being sighted in the area.” She glanced aside as a few of her troops disappeared below deck, then up at the damaged mast. “What are you doing out in this storm?”
Remembering why he had taken the crew out in this storm, Marlynx seemed to have shut down. He looked down with his hands crossed and did not speak, as if he was refusing to say something that was embarrassing.
Taking his silence as some form of guilt, Hanna pressed on. She again looked at the mortar cannons, currently being taken out of commission by her crew. “Why are you so heavily armed?”
Noreen looked ar Marlynx's refusal to speak. Though Hanna's reaction to Marlnyx's silence was not hostile, Noreen feared that Marlynx's silence would land them in more trouble than they seemed to be. "Ma'am, Allow me to explain. I am may not be the captian of this crew, but as the First-Mate, i do have authority to speak on behalf of the captain. We came out here to look for and hunt down a Royal Lamiatona, which explains why we are heavily armed. However, Before we were about to depart to this area, I received a forecast for this current area indicating a storm was on its way. I tried to tell the captain-."
Noreen was interrupted by a now furious marlynx. "Oh my God, Shut your goddamn mouth!" Marlynx snapped.
Noreen was startled, though she wasn't completely surprised by Marlynx's hostile reaction. At this point, Noreen became furious as well. "Well, We aren't going to get anywhere if you keep your mouth shut! And knowing you, you would probably say something that would land us into even deeper shit!" She yelled.
Marlynx hissed. Facing directly at Noreen, it seemed that his anger caused him to ignore the presence of the Magic council members on board. "Says the cretin who told me to fire at those lights."
The word "cretin" stuck out the most to Noreen. Noreen and Marlynx have had plenty of scuffles in the past, this one seemed to top them all. Marlynx had never resorted to calling Noreen any synonym of stupid before. At this point, Noreen was extremely offended and began shouting very loudly, with tears coming out of her eyes. "I told you that we shoudln't have even come out here to begin with! There was a gigantic storm headed in the direction of this area, but you were so fucking dense that you didn't even listen to me!" She yelled. The rest of the crew member at the upper deck, including the members of Hanna's crew, quietly observed this hostile exchange of words.
The most surprised of them all was Hanna herself. “H-hold on a minute…” She stopped herself short; they were here to investigate, not play mediator. The two kept going back and forth, giving no indication that they would stop any time soon.
“Capitan?” Someone called from below deck. Both Hanna and Marlynx turned to see who was addressing them, as the title technically applied to both of them, to see a Councilmen standing at the foot of the stares. He held a large harpoon in his hand, and handed it to Hanna when she approached. “Found this, and about two dozen others stashed below deck. And enough fishing gear to feed a whole city.”
Hanna quickly spun around, hoping the two of them had finished their quarrel. “Care to explain?”
Hanna's words interrupted Marlynx's and Hannas quarreling. Marlynx looked at Hanna straight in the eye. His anger seemed to give way to a spirit of sarcasm. "Are you deaf? Or were you just not paying attention to what Noreen said?" He asked Hanna with a mean look in his eyes.
Hanna recoiled slightly, growing more impatient with each word the cat said. Another gust of wind rocked the ship sideways, reminding them all of their current predicament. "Tow the ship!" She called to her crew, before turning to Marlynx and Noreen again. "Kill your engine and have your crew above deck. We're moving out!"
Noreen was still crying, but that did not stop her from activating her Telepathy Magic. As she did, Marlynx sighed, then spoke. "Engineers, kill the main engines, and head to the top-deck. As for everyone else on this ship, report immediately to the top-deck." he said. After saying this, it took a few seconds for the wave of crew members to start spilling out from the various entrances to the lower decks. Noreen looked up at Hanna, now being a little more composed than before.
Still acting as if nothing is going on, Shogo said, "Alright, let's give that baby some rest now!" The engineers around him worked to shut down the main engine, pressing complicated combinations of colorful flashing buttons. The loud rattling of the engine began to die down and as it did, the engineers including Shogo made a B-line to the upper decks. Arriving at the top-deck, Shogo looked around at the crowded deck and the ships that surrounded the Valles Marineris. "What is going on here?" He thought to himself.
After taking a moment to look over the crew in it's whole, Hanna pointed her sword up to the ship they had arrived on and said. "All non essential crewmembers will board our ship for the venture home. Everyone else return to your posts until we've reached shore. At this point, consider yourselves to be under arrest."
A collective moan fell over the crew, but in that instant a gust of wind suddenly caught the sails. Without the engines fighting the churning waves, the ship violently lurched forwards and the damaged mast began to creak. The rigging went rigid, holding the mast in place, but there was no doubt in anyone's mind that it had already begun to fall.
"Everyone clear!" Marlynx shouted. Every crew member aboard who was commanded by Hanna to stay on the ship cleared the area over which the mast was going to fall, frantically moving towards the helm. The momentum of the falling mast caused it to fall straight into the ocean. The entire crew stared silently at the sight, knowing there was nothing they could do about it. The mast fell into the ocean with a splash loud enough to be heard across the Valles Marineris and even some crew members aboard the Magic Council ships
Noreen walked over to the bow, put both her elbows on the railing and her hands on her face to cover them. She took several deep breaths as to vent out all of the frustration form having a fight with Marlynx and being arrested. One could hear confused chatter all across the deck between the entire crew of the Valles Marineris. While the chatter filled Noreen's ears, she could hear someone crew member say to Noreen, "Hey, Are you alright?"
Noreen looked over to her left with a few tears running down her cheeks. Shogo stood there with a confused look on his face. Noreen looked back at the ocean and the ships that were tugging the Valles Marineris. Giving a sigh, she responded, "I'm fine... or at least i hope to be." Shogo crossed his arms and raised his eyebrow while taking a step towards Noreen. "You certainly don't look okay. Did you and Marlynx fight again?" He asked. Noreen stood there, not saying a word. She was only breathing heavily in an attempt to vent her stress. Shogo walked up to Noreen and stood next to her, staring out at the ocean. "I'll take that as a yes." He said.
"That cat just has a way of making me feel like I want to kill myself. At times like this, I don't even know why I continue to work with him." Noreen said.
Shogo looked over at noreen. "Now don't say stuff like that. I can understand that Marlynx can be rather thick, but come on, don't let it get to you. WHatever he did to you, i'm sure he does it to everybody." He said.
Noreen then looked at SHogo straight in the eyes. "You were not here to see what he did, but he went overboard. Do you remember what i said to Marlynx before we left?" She asked.
Immediately after she asked the question, Shogo responded, "'We really shouldn't go out there with the storm approaching.' I remember how blatantly Marlynx ignored your suggestion."
Noreen lit up and she raised her voice slightly. "Yeah. WHile we were in the storm, we saw some lights and as Marlynx beganan to steer the ship in the direction of the lights, i suggested that the lights migiht be the monster we are looking for. He investigated it and believed the lights to be the monster, and he subsequently gave the order to fire on thel lights. of course, they were actually magic council ships. And though i made a mistake in saying the light could have been the Royal Lamiatona, Marlynx is acting as if this entire ordeal is my fault when we wouldn't even have been stuck in a storm to begin with had he just listened to me." She said strongly
Shogo looked intently at Noreen. "Look at me." He said. Noreen looked at Shogo, eager to hear what he had to say. "You might have made that mistake, but honestly, the fault here lies on Marlynx." Shogo continued. Hearing this, Noreen's face lit up slightly.
"First, you are right. It is his fault that we are in this mess. Also, you might have made the suggestion, but he had the choice whether to give the command to fire or not. You simply suggested, and what he chose to do with your suggestion falls entirely on him." Shogo said.
SHogo's words seemed to have a positie effect on Noreen's attitude as she seemed to become less stressed. "You know, I never looked at it that way." Noreen said.
"Hey you two?" Hanna approached slowly, having watched the two of them for the last little while and decided to give them a bit of space. "I need you to move onto out ship now. We're almost ready to go." Her expression was softer than before, appearing a little more sympathetic to Noreen's predicament.
Noreen sighed and said, "Alright, Ma'am" politely. She and Shogo began to walk in Hanna's direction, allowing Hanna to escort herself and Shogo off of the ship onto the Magic Council's vessel. "She seems really nice." Noreen thought to herself.
Next Chapter - Trial After the Tempest